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Arcade Impressions: Pac-man VR

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There’s only so many ways you can play Pac-man, and most of them revolve around simply navigating a 2-D maze with a joystick. There’s only one way to truly step into Pac-man’s shoes, though, and that is in the Namco-licensed Pac-man VR, created by Virtuality.

Note the following: Pac-man VR was made in 1996, so it’s over 10 years old. Therefore, everything isn’t as good as modern virtual reality games, but it’s still pretty fun.

The game drops you into a 3-D rendering of the original Pac-man‘s first level, so Pac-man vets won’t be thrown off by any new maze designs. Similarly, the game play is identical to the original Pac-man – eat all the pellets you can while not getting hit by the ghosts… at least not until you munch down a power pellet. You also have to race the clock, which gives you 60 seconds at first, but extra time is added as you chow down on the maze’s pellets. It doesn’t seem that the game has fruits like cherries that you can eat for more points, however.

Instead, what might trip them up is adjusting to the unique controls of Pac-man VR. After slipping on the visor-like helmet, which can be adjusted to different head sizes, you find yourself smack dab in the middle of a maze. Using a handle-like controller, you’ll be able to determine when Pac-man moves forward by holding down a button. Turning to the left or right will turn Pac-man in the same direction, while letting go of the button brings Pac-man to a dead stop. Just like in the original Pac-man, knowing when to go, when to turn and when to stop is important to both surviving and getting a high score.

Not only can you see what’s going on, but thanks to a TV mounted on the machine, so can everybody else around you. It’s quite fun to be running around the maze with other people cheering you on. Two player capabilities are also present, but they weren’t working properly when I played.

If you can actually find somewhere with Pac-man VR, it might be worth a few plays. It’s certainly one of the more interesting Pac-man games I’ve ever gotten to play.

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About Brian Szabelski

  • I have a real problem with this entry – it reads as if the person has not played the game on the VR platform.

    I worked in the VR field and evaluated the game when it was in development and then launched. Virtuality (the manufacturers) made Pac-Man, Missile Command and Carnival – VR versions in the late 90’s.

    All Virtuality games were poor – hampered by the limitations of the hardware (unreliable sub-million poly generation) and a R&D team suffering executive strife in a new field.

    Pac-Man never received a full release and I think Namco still claim it as a ‘non-release’ on their corporate history. The game was actually focused for the Atari VR project that was dropped because of executive issues.

    All the best,

    The Stinger Report – leading amusement and attraction e-newsletter (www.thestingerreport.com)